Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
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I've been fairly quiet of late on the website as I've been working on a revision of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence as Argyll Publishing are bringing out a new edition. I have never done anything like this before and it was really difficult to know how much to change the first edition. In the end I changed a fair bit. So there's a new introduction and conclusion and substantial revision to the two chapters on inequality. I also completely changed the Never Good Enough chapter mainly by introducing and applying ideas from Carol Dweck's work on mindset. I also wrote a completely new chapter on Scottish culture and optimism - or more precisely pessimism.
Nonethess the purpose of the book has not altered from the first edition. It aims to come up with a better way to understand Scotland and the Scots – a way which helps us to build Scottish self-confidence, reduce negativity and abject self-criticism and move on from some of the limiting beliefs of the past. In the bookI specifically set out to: analyse Scottish culture and the strengths and weaknesses of Scotland and the Scots; reveal some deeply held Scottish beliefs and attitudes; and understand why the Scots lack confidence in themselves and their country.
This last sentence may jar with those who see the election result of May 2011, when the SNP won an outright majority in the Scottish Parliament elections, as a sign of rising self-confidence. In the wake of the election many commentators argued that the SNP's momentous victory shows that a growing number of Scots have lost their fear of independence: they may still not vote for separation in a future referendum but they don't mind voting for a party committed to such an end and they are clearly not opposed to important political discussions about Scotland's future. I agree with such an analysis and think it suggests a general growth in collective confidence; whether it affects individuals' confidence in themselves is another matter.
What's more, it would be foolhardy for anyone to believe that the momentum behind independence or even increased powers for the Scottish Parliament is so great that change is unstoppable. The famous Shakespearean line 'there's many a slip twixt cup and lip' reminds us of the uncertainty of life. 'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley', is how our own poet Robert Burns describes the capricious nature of human existence.
Little is certain but I contend that we can be sure of one thing – confidence, or the lack of it, will play an important part in the next few chapters of Scotland's story. And I hope that this revised edition of the book may be a helpful guide.